We read Unyime Ivy King’s interview and we were blown away by the amount of depth one person can offer. If you are looking to publish a book soon her advice on publishing and distributing your books will come in handy.
Sparkle Writers, enjoy Unyime’s insightful interview with us.
Hello Unyime please introduce yourself.
I am a passionate God lover and an anointed scribe who sees my writing as an important calling and a ministry which enables me to function as an influencer and change agent in my society. I am author and publisher, wife of one husband and mother of four. I am a passionate advocate for a return to positive family values using the social media platform actively to express my passion and beliefs, because I believe that the family is an important unit of society which helps to transmit culture between generations, and that stable societies, emerge from strong, stable and positive family experiences. I do not only write for leisure, I see it as a calling to serve.
I also am the MD of HTT Communications, a communications/publishing firm and ED Communications at Protection Plus Services Ltd, the parent company which is co-owned by my husband and me. Recently, I unveiled my not for profit organisation- SOW&G (The Save Our Women and Girls Foundation), which is poised to provide mentorship for women and girls, support credible NGOs and train women and girls in the area of skills acquisition. This we had started informally last year, before the inauguration. We were able to train over 110 women in 5 different skills areas, hence empowering them to be economically viable and productive citizens of their society. We are planning a second and third editions of that training. These are my areas of passion. I happen to be a UN Volunteer on the platform of the International Association of World Peace Advocates (IAWPA) and also an ambassador of the Nigerian Army School of Public Relations (NASPRI).
How long have you been writing for and what have you learnt in these years?
I started writing as a young girl in primary school. My siblings and I were exposed to books really early in life and the interest caught on. Sadly enough the many stories I wrote on countless notepad were never published until my novel, Burning Hurt was published first by AuthorHouse UK in 2013 and I published a West African edition in 2014.
One powerful thing I have learnt is that you get better at writing by writing. You can read others and learn, but your style is unique to you and your writing voice, if you dare to use it, should be recognizable. It’s a function of consistency and exercise.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
I will never forget an incident that happened one holiday when I was a child in the primary school or elementary school as it was called. We had this dear uncle, my father’s older brother (he’s late now), at whose house we spent a lot of time. One day, his oldest son who was studying law at the time, and also happens to be my oldest paternal cousin, asked us all to gather for a mini concert. We had cousins who had come into Calabar from Lagos, including my siblings too. My cousin gave us different writing assignments and he would read each person’s write up out and grade. When he began to read my own, he paused and shook his head, and kept saying, “Unyime Ikpe” (my maiden name) and kept shaking his head, while commending my writing. That is one memory I have kept and cherished long after I have forgotten what topic I wrote about, because it warms my heart, just remembering.
It sort of opened my eyes to the realization that I could write, and that words have power. I saw the effect of what I’d written on the people gathered there. That spurred me on.
Where do you get inspiration from?
I get inspired by everything, especially intelligent conversations with others, and the things happening around me in society. Because my interest is more about issues that have to do with family, any family related incident is a trigger for me – family relationship dynamics, relationships generally, family values etc. Any experience or encounter could trigger an urge to write. For instance, a failed relationship story a friend shared with me while I was serving, provided the inspiration for my novel and the other books I’m working on, are motivated by family stories and life issues generally.
You are the author of ‘Burning hurt’. What inspired you to write this book?
Burning Hurt was inspired by the need to show the cause and effect of sowing wild oats – especially by the men – and also highlight the problems that arise from dysfunctional family relationships. The family is a miniature society and when it malfunctions, society malfunctions too. I wanted the story of Burning Hurt to capture the fact that for every action we take or every choice we make, there is a corresponding consequence or consequences.
What salient lessons did publishing a book (especially in Nigeria) teach you ?
I learnt that one really has to be prepared to work extra hard because the distribution channels for marketing one’s book are really not there and as an author you need to push your work or nobody will do it for you.
Putting one’s book in a bookshop does not really work because it’s a very slow process. But you just have to do it for the physical presence. Direct sales is a better method for marketing and of course, leveraging on the free social media platforms as much as possible.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies?
I love to experiment with dishes, watch good movies (I love thrillers and epic movies), travel.
Some write for fortune, others for fame, why do you write?
I write because I see my writing as a personal ministry to my society. I want to use my words to influence my world positively, one person per time. If in the process of doing that, fame and fortune come, I’d gladly embrace them because I have some understanding that keeps me firmly grounded. I do not get carried away.
Another lesson is that you have to monitor the whole process 100% if you do not want to see errors that would make your skin crawl. Sometimes you put in your best to push the process, but the final product may end up a disappointment. It’s tedious, really.
What is your ultimate dream as a writer?
My ultimate dream is to spread the influence of my writing beyond the shores of this country such that my words are not only affecting people in my country, but also reaches across borders to affect someone who needs to read me. I also want to know that at the end of my life, I said all I was supposed to say.
How has your writing evolved over the years, did you do anything specific to make improvements?
When I look at some of the things I wrote many years back, which I was praised for, to the things I write now, I realize that I have come a long way. Reading is a childhood love, which I still hold on to, and one way that has helped my writing improve.
I read good books by established and credible writers especially the works of veterans like Chinua Achebe, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Flora Nwapa and of course contemporary writers like Chimamanda Adichie. I do my best to read articles and on social media follow handles that share things about good writing or what makes a good writer. I use Google well as a study tool too.
Asides that, I registered for some programs at the School of Media and Communication of the Pan Atlantic University, Lagos, called Media Enterprises (CME) and Advanced Writing and reporting skills (AWARES). Part of the course module involved creative writing and this helped me a lot. I still plan to go back to do more programs that would help with my writing.
Do you Google yourself? Please tell us why
I do because I want to see what kind of digital prints I have left and also to see what the progress has been over time. I don’t compare myself with anyone because the Bible, which is my manual for life, makes me understand that it’s unwise to do so. Instead I compare myself with my purpose. When I Google me, I can see a trail of what I have done and also see how I can keep getting better at being me.
What’s your advice to writers who have not shared their work with the world because they are scared of what people will say?
I would repeat the words of a very wise man, who happens to be my husband, “The only way to get out of trouble, is to enter it.”
I would advise them, “Do not be scared to share because someone out there needs that information you are hoarding.” You would never improve if you want to stay in your cocoon of safety. Talk to a writer you admire, who is doing what you wish you could and get counsel, get mentorship. Even if they are not within reach, buy their books and read their thoughts, read articles they’ve shared and so on. There’s so much potential in you. Bin the fear and step into the waters with both feet. You will figure a way out if it looks like you are drowning. If you never dare to try, you’d never know how far you can go, or what you are capable of doing.